Johannesburg-based Imago Relationship and Parenting Therapist, Lome Koekemoer, has this to say about parenting in the age of technology:
“When we grow up, we learn a great deal about problem solving through play, and games that incorporate interpersonal interactions. We learn about exploration, our own identities, our own competence and problem resolution. Though digital technology also offer children learning opportunities, it does so in an artificial manner and excludes the fundamental building blocks that are needed for childhood development. These games do not teach our kids about human interaction and emotional intelligence. Research has shown that your child’s level of emotional intelligence is one of the biggest predictors of good adjustment, better grades and interpersonal success. So, parents need to help their kids develop healthy self-perceptions, stress management, interpersonal skills, and adaptability – none of which can be really fostered through digital technology.
- For younger kids, every hour of TV creates a greater likelihood of attention problems. So try to keep TV viewing to a minimum for children under the age of 2 and then after that try to keep it to no more than 60-90 minutes per day.
- Require your child to participate in 1 hour of non-digital activities (i.e. reading, playing outside) for every hour of exposure to digital technology.
- Make a rule that requires your kids to restrict the use of digital technology to public spaces in the house (i.e. the living room or kitchen).
- Digital technology devices should not be used as babysitters or as a substitute for paying attention to or spending time with your kids.
- Set a good example … don’t expect your kids to restrict their time on digital technology if you spend almost all your free time doing it.
- Build trust with your kids and foster regular communication and connection, as this will make it easier for them to share their online activities with you.
- You should actively manage the content that your child is exposed to via digital technology.
- Teach your child about the real meaning of the word friend or buddy. Social media technology has started to give children a false sense of friendship.”
For consultations with Lome, contact her on 0824538132 or firstname.lastname@example.org.